Israel Dreams Of A Future As An Oil Producer : Parallels : NPR

by Emily Harris, November 27, 2013 3:21 AM

Givot Olam CEO Tovia Luskin expects to drill 40 wells and build a pipeline to a refinery on the coast. The company already has “proven and probable” reserves of 12.5 million barrels of oil. Luskin chose where to drill based on a passage from the Bible.

Emily Harris/ NPR

There’s an old joke that if Moses had turned right when he led Jewish tribes out of Egypt, Israel might be where Saudi Arabia is today — and be rich from oil. Consultant Amit Mor of Eco Energy says that joke is out of date.

“Israel has more oil than Saudi Arabia,” he claims. “And it’s not a joke.”

But that oil will be difficult to reach, . The oil he’s talking about is not yet liquid but is trapped in rocks underground.

“Maybe, if technology will be proved viable, Israel can meet all of its needs from domestic production of oil,” Mor says.

That is precisely the dream of Israel Energy Initiatives, an Israeli company backed by major U.S. investors.

“The motivation of our investors starts with the energy independence for Israel,” says Relik Shafir, its CEO.

He explains that extracting the oil would be a long, slow process. involves placing electric heaters in an 8-inch pipe about 1,000 feet below the ground.

“Through a slow heating process that may take two to three years, it turns the organic part of the rock into gases and liquids,” Shafir says.

Commercial production is at least a decade away, and the hurdles aren’t just technical. They are environmental and political as well.

…(read more).

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